New Women’s Basketball Coach
Kevin Baker has come a long way in 20-plus years of coaching basketball. He worked his way up from high school coach to the new head coach of the UTEP women’s basketball team.
“In the end, no one could match the level of success that he has achieved, winning over 300 games and setting school records for victories at every stage of his coaching career,” said Bob Stull, director of UTEP Athletics. “He is a personable and energetic young man and a great fit for UTEP and the El Paso community."
Baker comes to UTEP from Angelo State University, where he posted a combined record of 50-14 in two seasons (2015-17). Overall Baker has a 344-131 coaching record. He has set school records for wins at every stop of his career and is an eight-time Coach of the Year.
While attending Stephen F. Austin State University, Baker helped put himself through college by refereeing basketball games across Texas.
“You would think I would be nicer to those guys now, having done that for so long, but nah, not really,” Baker said. “That probably shaped my career more than anything else because at such a young age, 18 through 21, I learned a lot of basketball running up and down the floor watching what other coaches do.”
Baker’s life also has been shaped by his childhood, growing up in an Air Force family and living in Hawaii, England and New York.
“At a young age, you learn how to make friends quick and you learn how to get along with all different kinds of people from all different walks of life,” he said.
Baker counts his sister and himself lucky that they were adopted by a loving couple.
“My biological mother in 1972 had the courage enough to say 'I'm not ready' and put me up for adoption to two parents who were ready,” Baker said. “It's something that I very rarely even think about and it's because … we couldn't have better parents."
When Baker thinks about adoption, he said he considers adopting children in the future to give children the same loving environment he and his sister had with their adopted parents.
Basketball consumes a great portion of his life but Baker does make time to enjoy music and movies and occasionally play some golf.
"I jokingly tell people my next career is going to be a DJ of some kind,” Baker said. "I love music, all different kinds. There's no music that I don't like or won't listen to. I'm a big movie buff. My favorite movie of all time is 'Jerry Maguire.' Show me the money! I just love that movie. I know it by heart, frontwards and backwards, from beginning to end. I'd go watch it right now if I could."
A positive, upbeat individual, Baker also is known as a storyteller. He uses stories of past players and teams to inspire current players.
In 1999, Baker was about to coach Palestine High School in a regional quarterfinal game when he noticed one of his coolest, calmest players was crying.
After giving her five minutes, he asked why she was crying.
“'I just imagined what it would feel like if we didn't win this game, and the tears came pouring out,’” Baker recalled her saying. “‘I just decided that I'm not going to feel this way. I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that neither I, nor my teammates, feel the way I felt back there.’ And to make the story a great story, we won the game.”
- Leonard Martinez